What Does Contingent Mean in Real Estate?

Whether you are in a buyer’s or seller’s market, contingencies on offers are not uncommon. If you are a home seller and you want to know what contingent means and how it may affect your home sale then read on for everything you need to know.

What is a Contingency?

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A contingency in its simplest terms is when you receive an offer on your home that is dependent on certain conditions being met. In other words, you have an agreement with a seller that your home sale will be finalized only if certain written conditions are met.

If you receive an offer to buy your home with contingencies it may or may not end up being an issue for you. The contingency could be simple and easy for you to agree with, there are other types of contingencies that may be harder to meet or could be a deal breaker.

What Types of Contingencies are There?

So just what types of contingencies might you expect as a home seller? And are any in your favor or do they all help the buyer?

  • Appraisal Contingency – An appraisal contingency is not too uncommon. Almost half of home purchases made in 2021 included an appraisal contingency in the contract. With this type of contingency the offer will only go to closing if the lender approves the appraisal value. The lender will create their own comparables from houses in the area and determine if they will accept your appraised value of the home.
  • Home Inspection Contingency- A home inspection is even more common than an appraisal contingency with more than half of home sales in 2021 including this type of contingency. With a home inspection contingency the offer will go to closing if there are no big surprises or problems in the home inspection report. If the report comes back with major issues that were not clear when the offer was made on the home such as an issue with mold, the foundation or the roof, then the buyer can back out of the offer. This type of contingency can also lead to negotiation and asking for you, the seller, to solve the problems so that the home sale can go forward.
  • Title Contingency- With a title contingency the offer will go through if there are no issues with the title. If your title comes back clean, meaning there are no issues such as liens and unpaid taxes then you don’t need to worry about this contingency.
  • Financing Contingency- If you receive an offer from a buyer who has not been pre-approved by a lender then there may be a financing contingency written into the offer. This contingency protects the potential buyer and gives them an out from the contract without penalty if they are unable to obtain financing from a lender.
  • Home Sale Contingency- This contingency is a way of the seller protecting themselves in case they cannot sell their current home. A home sale contingency means that the offer will only go through once the new buyer is able to sell their current home.

As you can see contingencies are a way of potential buyers to protect themselves allowing them to back out of a contract, leaving you without a home buyer.

Can a Seller Accept Other Offers with a Contingency?

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Because a contingency can slow down your home sale process and leave your home on the market longer than you would like it’s important to have a backup plan. The good news is that you can still entertain offers while your home is in contingent status. Because a house can stay in contingency anywhere from 30-60 days you don’t want to just take your home off the market and have to start all over again if contingencies aren’t met.

Accepting backup offers from other interested parties, especially ones who may not require contingencies can help protect your time and effort involved in selling your home.

How Often Do Contingent Offers Fall Through?

The unfortunate reality is that contingencies can be deal breakers and if contingencies aren’t met the deal can be stalled or stopped completely. The MLS doesn’t provide statistics on how often contingent offers fall through each year so there’s no way to put a number on how often it happens. If you know that your home has problems that can come up in a home appraisal, or you have unresolved problems with your title then there is a good chance you will end up with a failed deal based on contingencies.

Does the Seller Have To Agree to Contingencies?

So what are your options as a seller? All contingencies point towards benefiting the buyer, does that mean you have to agree to the contingencies? The answer is no, you do not have to agree to contingencies. If you choose not to accept any contracts with contingencies then there is a chance your home could be harder to sell or it will take you longer to find a buyer so keep that in mind.

Tired of Contingencies?

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If you’ve been burned by contingencies and you don’t want to deal with the hassle of drawn-out contracts and closing times, showing your house and staging your home then consider selling to a non-traditional buyer. Gary is a trusted real estate investor who has been working in Utah for more than 10 years. He has a track record of creating win-win solutions for sellers who need to sell houses that just don’t do well in the traditional market. He will buy your house in any condition, no contingencies, and pay you cash.

If you’re looking for a speedy and less stressful home selling process than reach out to Gary today to receive an offer on your home.


I was a part owner in an electrical contracting firm in the late 1990’s and started to get interested in real estate around 2001. My business partner and I bought our first rental property in 2002. From there we did several real estate transactions until we decided to close the electrical business and part ways. In 2009 I started Gary Buys Houses which is owned by my wife, Eileen, and I. I felt like I could offer one on one personal service to people that wanted to sell their house quickly or not worry about repairs and such. Today, I have built a reputation of being fair and honest with people no matter their situation, so the business continues to help people and be successful. I have been married for 34 years, and have one son, two step sons and 4 grandchildren. I like to travel and spend time in Southern Utah exploring. https://www.garybuyshouses.com/

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